Southern Governors defy Buhari, set September for implementation of open grazing ban

Governors are pressing ahead with the ban on anti-open grazing in the south.

The Southern Governors' Forum made the decision at a meeting in Lagos on Monday, July 5, 2021 [Facebook/Olabode Richard Olatunde]

The Southern Governors' Forum has set September 1, 2021 as deadline for the implementation of the ban on open grazing of cattle across the entire region.

The governors during a meeting on Monday, July 5 agreed that all southern states should have anti-open grazing laws in place by September.

The governors were reprimanded by the Presidency when they first announced the ban nearly two months ago, citing security concerns sparked by open grazing.

Conflict between herders and farmers caused by open grazing has led to the death of hundreds of people and displacement of thousands from their local communities.

Governors noted with concern the incursion of armed herders and criminal bandits into the south, escalating insecurity that has hampered citizens from living their normal lives.

The Presidency said the announcement was of questionable legality, as the ban purportedly violates the constitutional rights of Nigerians to freedom.

President Muhammadu Buhari's spokesperson, Garba Shehu, said the governors' decision offered no solution to the agelong crisis that has assumed ethnic dimensions over the years, and has fueled more talks of secession.

He said, "The citizens of the southern states – indeed citizens of all states of Nigeria - have a right to expect their elected leaders and representatives to find answers to challenges of governance and rights, and not to wash their hands off hard choices by, instead, issuing bans that say: 'not in my state'."

The aide noted that no one is more worried about the crisis than the president whom he said has expressed a strong resolve to address it in a sustained and lasting manner, and provide a permanent solution.

The Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, also expressed disapproval with the ban.

He said governors cannot deny the freedom of Nigerians to move around the country, and that they should seek to amend the constitution instead.

"It is indeed a dangerous position for any governor in Nigeria to think that he can bring about any compromise to the freedom and liberty of individuals to move around," he said.

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